Lost in the Dark
Prometheus Movie Review
By Jessica Dwyer
THERE ARE SPOILERS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
Way back last year the debate was raging about if the new sci-fi epic being helmed by Ridley Scott was a prequel to Alien, one of the best sci-fi films of the last few decades. Scott went back and forth until he finally admitted yes, in a way it was.
Following up or rather building the base of what would lead to Alien is no doubt a daunting task, especially with one of the key builders of the original, Dan O’Bannon, no longer being with us. So Scott and company went to work on Prometheus, trying to capture lightening once again.
Unfortunately I think that lightening fried someone’s brain and the plot got burned up along with their sense of logic.
There’s really no way I can point out what is wrong with Prometheus without spoiling quite a bit of it. So I’ve warned you already twice.
The trailer has already told everyone the core story of the film and given away a lot of what happens in it. Two archeologists discover a star map to a planet that’s supposedly where the engineers of humanity are possibly. Within moments in the film we are suddenly on the Prometheus ship and orbiting the planet shown on those star charts. What follows is the old “be careful what you wish for” scenario where the archeologists do indeed get to come face to face with the engineers.
Now on paper and in the trailers this film looks and sounds amazing. The concept isn’t a new one (the search for who made us/humans coming from aliens) but it’s never been done by Ridley Scott before or within a universe like the one that gave us Alien. These things together should create something that will blow our minds.
But instead we get something that’s very pretty but so haphazard and nonsensical that it actually makes me angry to think about. There’s no reason this film should not have been one of the best of the year. But what Prometheus is, is one of the most prime examples where a script and story can make or break even the most well equipped projects.
I guess first we must start with the characters or lack thereof. Now I’ve heard people talking about how if you are hung up on the lack of character development then you are missing the point and the film went over your head. I beg to differ. This film was tailored in a lot of ways for the lowest common denominator, for the film goer who doesn’t want to think that much and who wants everything explained out for them. While I know that statement will contradict the rest of my review, that is just testament to how messy this script is. Hence the massive amounts of foreshadowing that was going on and the way over dramatic reveal of who exactly Theron’s Meredith Vickers was. Let’s not forget the wedging in of the comedic “I’ll turn my space suit into a bong” moment that made me want to pound my head into the chair in front of me.
Anyhoo…the character development, what little there was, was focused on Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw and Michael Fassbender as David. The rest of the crew were basically there just to…well…be there I guess. Idris Elba was wasted as the ship’s captain, Janek. Theron played a one dimensional bitch. And the rest of them were just there. Logan Marshall-Green as Shaw’s boyfriend/partner Holloway was never fleshed out either. He just came off as a jerk for most of the movie with no explanation as to why he was so hostile against androids. I mean this was the barest type of character creation and writing when it came to anyone not Fassbender or Rapace. Which is really sad when you’ve got people on the caliber of Theron and Elba, it’s truly a waste.
As said, this isn’t missing the point of the film…this is bad writing. I’ll give you an example of how you get people to care and give a damn about secondary characters. It’s called Aliens. I bet you money if you’ve seen that film that you can name off at least half of the colonial marines who went to fight with Ripley. There were quite a few of them, yet they all had a personality and in the amount of time they were on screen you gave a damn about them when they all went down fighting. I can tell you for a fact…I couldn’t name one single secondary character in this movie even immediately after watching it. And I challenge anyone else to try. Name three. I dare you.
Then there’s logic which there isn’t much of in this film either. There are many points that validate my statement there. Let’s start with why/how the aliens left star maps all over the earth to lead us to their possible weapons depot/outpost. Why would they do that? Was it a trick? Here’s another: What’s with the alien at the beginning committing suicide? Was that on accident, a punishment, or a way to seed the planet for life? Because from what I saw it just pretty much ate him up and destroyed his DNA and helped no one or nothing.
How is it that the Prometheus found the location so quickly? They did have an entire planet to look over…they find it on the first try right when they come through the atmosphere? This is the first time mankind has gone out and done something like this…we’re that lucky?
What’s with the big giant head by the way Lindelof? Do you just like big stone body parts?
HOW DO YOU SURVIVE ABDOMINAL SURGERY AND THEN RUN AROUND IN A SKIN TIGHT JUMPSUIT IMMEDIATLEY AFTER!?
Okay, the anger is coming back…
The biggest logic issue I have with this movie is the motivation of one of the main characters, which is David. David is an android, and we’ve already set up thanks to that awesome YouTube video that he shouldn’t have emotion. But there are more than a few instances in this film where he is acting with emotion. Or at least that is the only logical reason for him to behave as he does because the writers haven’t given us anything else to go on.
One of the prime examples of this is a major spoiler, but I warned you about that. He goes out of his way to infect Holloway. Why did he do this? There’s no indication he was instructed by Weyland to do so. There’s nothing he’s going to get out of this that will help Weyland. This was done knowingly to harm Holloway, but why? That’s called being vindictive and it’s also indicative of hate. That’s an emotional response. Holloway had been mocking him. Holloway was also close to Elizabeth Shaw. Was this due to jealousy and envy? WE DON’T KNOW BECAUSE IT’S DONE RANDOMLY AND THEN NOTHING IS EVER EXPLAINED.
I’m going with his being jealous because of a few more of his actions that are yet again, not explained. That random “dream reading helmet” that he uses to read Shaw’s mind. She’s the only one that he uses that with besides Weyland. Also at the end, he’s hopeful she’s still alive.
But these are just the tip of the iceberg with David’s random actions. Is he helping Vickers or is he helping Weyland? Does he want all the humans dead (his comment about don’t all children want their parents dead is creepy but also begs the question of who he’s speaking for, himself or someone else.) His actions make no sense and it really harms the film.
Then there are the things that happen while on the planet. The nasty parasite tentacle things are gross and horrifying. Yes, that’s true. But then we have what happens when the acidic goo inside them (ooooh foreshadowing) gets on the poor bastard geologist (who doesn’t even want to be there anyway even though he loves rocks and there’s a whole planet of new types all around him.) I have to ask, what the hell happened to him? Why did he suddenly become a Thing monster that comes back to attack the ship? That entire cluster of a scene made no sense at all and was just a way to off a few more of the crew that we didn’t even know anyway.
I’m not sure who to blame here, but the vagueness of the script, the set pieces that have nothing really logical connecting them, and the lack of answers to anything really smacks of Lost and Damon Lindelof. The guy is good at some things, but this is just an example of someone trying to use his one trick pony type of sci-fi writing in a movie setting…and it doesn’t work.
Lost had seasons of episodes to answer the questions of the viewers (and it still had these same problems where they didn’t really have the answers to things they never thought through.) In a 2 ½ hour time limit environment this isn’t fair to the audience and it makes a mess of a movie. It’s sort of the same issue that Cowboys and Aliens had where the reasoning behind everything was lost to the wayside to make way for the set pieces.
Prometheus even manages to screw up one of the most iconic images of Alien, that of the space jockey at the gun turret. How do you not get that right? And all of it for a cheap, forced in money shot to placate the fans. I’m a fan, and I just felt ripped off. And apparently I wasn’t the only one if the awkward silence of the audience and two hesitant clapping of hands was any indication.
After this very long review I would say that Prometheus is obviously a try for a new trilogy. And while that would be fine and dandy, this isn’t the way to go about it. Not giving much of anything back to the audience doesn’t make us want to pay another 14 dollars to have answers; it makes us want to go see something else.